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Planning for incidents and treatments abroad

FS120820 (Published November 2020)

As part of the Visits Abroad process you should plan for managing incidents and medical emergencies as well as critical incidents. Your plan should be concise and include the actions, information and contacts the leadership team will need to access additional support to manage a critical incident. Your critical incident plan should be available to the visit abroad leadership team and your emergency contact.

Medical Treatment Abroad

Leaders taking Scouts abroad are reminded that treatment under the National Health Service is only available whilst members are in the United Kingdom. Members requiring medical and dental treatment abroad may have to pay for all or part of any services provided. Although most visits abroad go without a hitch, precautions must be taken in case of illness or accident.

What is a Critical Incident?

An event or situation which is beyond the limit of the leadership to manage without additional support. It may significantly affect the wellbeing of an individual, group or leadership team or cause significant disruption to the itinerary. 

Examples could include: 

  • danger to life
  • widespread illness among the group or leadership team
  • natural disasters 
  • disruptive social or political events 

What additional support is available?

Scout Support Centre

The Regional Services Team can provide some UK-based communications support and you can access this via the Scout Support Centre or Duty Media Relations Officer. When reporting accidents, incidents or seeking additional support remember to have details about what happened, who is involved and what support you need. 

Travel Insurance 

Your travel insurance company will provide a 24hr emergency assistance but the services provided will vary, always check before you leave. Make sure you have the 24hr emergency assistance phone number and your policy number is available. Remember to have details of what happened, who is involved and what costs incurred and anticipated ready. 

Local Emergency Services 

Remember to have the correct numbers available and that in some countries each emergency service may have different numbers. The response available from emergency services will be different depending on the country - check this before you leave. 

Consular Support

Support includes replacement travel documents; information about transferring funds; helping victims of crime or those alleged of crime; referring to other sources of assistance; contacting family or friends; making special arrangements during times of crisis. 

If you're travelling outside the European Union and the country you are in does not have a British Embassy, High Commission or Consulate you can also request help from and Embassy or Consulate of another European Union member state. 

How do I know what incidents to prepare for?

Your critical incident plan should be informed by your risk assessment. You should plan for any risks which will need additional support to manage - that might be travel insurance services, consular services, in-country hosts or The Scout Association.

You can research the risks associated with your destination by accessing travel advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the NHS; by contacting the tourist information services of your host country; using reputable travel guides; people local to where you will be visiting; people who have visited before. You should also assess the risk of each activity.

Read our guidance on planning and assessing risk. Your Assistant County Commissioner (International) or equivalent can support you with this. 

What should I include?

A critical incident plan will include all the information and prompts you need to access the support you need to manage an incident. It should include details about who to contact and when and their details. Think about: 

  • actions to take
  • accessing emergency services
  • accessing travel insurance services
  • accessing consular services 
  • contacting The Scout Association 
  • contacting in-country hosts
  • finding refuge areas 
  • recording the information you will need

How do I plan the actions?

1. Stabilise and Communicate

  • Will you need to regroup?
  • Who do you need to contact?
  • What information will they need from you?
  • What support do you need to request?

2. Plan Next Steps

  • Route to emergency services?
  • Route to accomodation?
  • Has the incident affected the group?
  • Can you continue with remaining programme?

3. Abandonment

  • Is it possible you will need to abandon your trip?
  • Where can you stay whilst waiting to return home?
  • How can you protect group?
  • What will you need to do to minimise financial impact?